Universal Credit Q&A – Can I claim UC and self-employed grant and will I have to pay anything back?

HUNDREDS of thousands of self-employed workers are unable to earn money due to coronavirus.

Our welfare expert Nichola Salvato helps answer your queries on what help you can get through Universal Credit.

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You can apply for a self-employed government grant of up to £7,500 from May 13 and the cash will start hitting banks from May 25.

For many people this means three months without income, so what help can you get?

In the latest installment of our Universal Credit Q&A Nichola, who has four years experience in welfare rights, answers a question from one worried reader.

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I am a self-employed carpenter, I’ve had to stop working because of Covid but can I get help from the government’s self-employed scheme and Universal Credit?

If I claim UC now, will I have to pay it all back when I get the SE help in May and once I get the help in May will I stop getting UC even if I can’t go back to work? Any advice much appreciated.

Mr G via Facebook

Nichola replies: I’m very sorry to hear you have lost work because of lockdown.

So many have had to stop work entirely, leaving hundreds of thousands of families like yourselves in dire financial straits.

Thankfully, the government have brought in a number of welfare measures to help families cope with the worst of the financial fallout.

As you mention, there is the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme in the form of a grant of 80 per cent of average trading profits, up to £2500 per month, for up to three months, paid as one lump sum.

This help is available to the self-employed have been affected by Covid, who report annual profits of £50,000.00 or less and who have completed their 2018/19 tax returns by the extension date of April 23.

Helpfully, the government have also made this and the furlough scheme available to economically active people who would not ordinarily have recourse to public funds because of their immigration status.

From May 13, earlier than previously said you can make an application online for the scheme.

You must make the application yourself, not via your accountant, although your accountant if you have one, may be able to support or advise you through the process.

Once you have submitted your application, you should receive a response straight away, with any funds paid into your bank account within six working days.

What other help is available?

THE government has also introduced the following measures to help self-employed workers and businesses during the coronavirus outbreak.

  • Income-tax deferrals: Self-assessment income tax payments, that were due in July, can be deferred to the end of January next year.
  • Rent support: Businesses who are struggling to pay their rents are protected from eviction until the end of June.
  • Coronavirus business interruption loan scheme: SMEs can get loans and overdrafts of up to £5 million for up to six years and the government with guarantee up to 80 per of these loans.
  • Grants of up to £10,000: Small firms can get grants of up to £10,000 to help with ongoing business costs.
  • VAT payments: VAT payments can be deferred for three months.
  • Tax bill help: SMEs that cannot afford their tax bills can ask HMRC for a “time to pay” arrangement so any debt collection is suspended.
  • Business rates holiday: A 12-month business rates holiday has been introduced for many businesses.

Many self-employed people who do not have savings and who have been unable to work since the end of March will have needed much more immediate help and have had to claim Universal Credit.

This is absolutely fine and will not affect your entitlement to the Self-Employed Income Scheme, so please don’t worry.

As long as you have savings of less that £10,000, you will potentially be entitled to UC.

The guidance at the moment says that when you do eventually receive your grant from the scheme, it will be treated as earned income for the purposes of Universal Credit, only for the assessment period in which you actually receive the grant into your bank account.

So you will not have to repay any UC you have been paid in previous months, your UC payment will be adjusted down for the month you receive your grant only.

It will then increase again for the following assessment period, providing your ongoing income continues to be low enough for you to be entitled to UC.


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In addition to this scheme, there are a number of other loans, grants, rates deferral schemes and mortgage holidays available to help families and businesses over this period.

If you need further help, do have a look at gov.uk to see what else you might be eligible for or read The Sun’s advice on how to fix your finances.

Good luck with your applications!

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